Hong Kong's Education Bureau (EDB) released the Recommended e-Textbook List (eRTL) on Friday, listing the first batch of e-textbooks with quality assurance under Phase One of the e-Textbook Market Development Scheme (EMADS) for school use in the 2014/15 school year.

The first eRTL covers primary education subjects of Chinese Language, English Language, Putonghua, General Studies and Physical Education; and junior secondary education subjects of English Language, Geography, and Life and Society.

The government initially launched the EMADS in June 2012 to facilitate and developers to create e-textbooks for the local curricula.

"In addition to fulfilling the quality criteria of printed textbooks, different from common e-books in PDF format, we expect e-textbooks to include features like multimedia and interactivity," said a government spokesperson.

With e-textbook price stability in mind, the government also requires successful EMADS applicants to commit to the sales prices of the e-textbooks produced under EMADS for two to four years.

Some e-textbooks are 70% cheaper

Compared to the prices of printed textbooks on the same subject, e-textbooks on the eRTL are on average more than 30% cheaper, the government spokesperson noted.

"Prices of e-textbooks in some subjects are nearly 70% lower [versus printed versions]," the spokesperson said. "E-textbooks not only provides schools with more choices but also create room for reduction of textbook costs."

The try-outs under phase two of EMADS are now in progress, said the spokesperson, adding that e-textbooks that have undergone quality assurance will be available for school use in the 2015/16 and 2016/17 school years.